" Close your eyes and ask your heart: what is my gift? "- Bai Ling

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
Bai Ling has the key to success. Do what you are passionate about. If you do that, everything else flows and life is not a struggle. Bai Ling, who has starred in major Hollywood ventures such as "Anna and The King", "Star Wars 3" and Ang Lee's "The Wedding Banquet"  was here as the jury for the KOLKATA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2015. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her about her life and journey in Hollywood.

How did you begin acting? Is this something you had dreamt of?

To me everything in life happens naturally, I was very shy, almost mute as a child, I was for some reason fear of life fear of people, but I know I have a beautiful rich universe inside me, there is a power of magic hidden, if I don't find a way to express it, then it will explode. So I have to find a way to express that magic. At that time I didn’t know what it was, but it was a passion to express the raw truth inside of me, a feeling that is so real and strong. I think acting is finding me, it is my path, through playing a character I can actually be me, but hide behind a mask so that other people think it's a character I am playing, but to me it’s a great joy to be true and free, it’s like suddenly a magic child can have her free wings to dance with joy. Because I am the only one know it’s the real me, so I am safe and not afraid.

It's a gift that I have, because I have never learned acting, but it comes so easily, because I just express the truth of how I feel. But the key is that I need to trust myself to know that I have a beautiful gift to give! And the gift we have, it is not for us to keep, but to give.

Bai Ling as lady Tuptim in Anna and the King
Which has been your most cherished roles?

I got many; I would say all of them. Because it is a part of me in all of them, each character gives me the joy to express each part of me. And “Anna and the King " come to my mind now, because I had to shave my hair completely to play the role that was very difficult for me or for any woman. As a girl's hair does so much for us, into protecting us, make us feel beautiful and safe, but when you have no hair then you are totally naked, yes talk about the nakedness, I would encourage every woman in the world to try to shave your hair once in your life, then you will know what I went through and what kind of magic strength and power I gain and realized that I actually have. Then you will understand the power and strength you actually have, otherwise you would never know. The pure nakedness is powerful.

I become totally vulnerable, therefore I become totally powerful and almost larger than life. It was the requirement that I have to first purify myself in order to play her role, then the road becomes possible to freely access the pure feeling of the power of pure love I have in my heard for the heart, that is what I give to my Character Toptim. Many people cried for her, because she gives you her heart, the true love. And the truth always has magic in it.

What challenges you in a role?

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
Almost nothing, as I express to you earlier, acting come easily because I am not acting. I think the challenge will be if there is any that will be: if I trust myself enough that at any moment I can open myself completely to give the truth to my character, if I can trust myself 100 percent. If I trust, then I can do almost anything with any character I play.

I played the roles that are originally written for a man, I played a character that is originally written for A white woman, the leading role in the film “The Key”. Then I have just finished a Chinese film called " lord of Shanghai " I play the lead female character from the age 28 years old till she is 80 years old. It is all because I completely trust myself and let my magic open my wings to fly, and to sing and dance.

Where do you draw your strength from, in moments of challenge?

Trust, totally trust! In order to meet my potential and give my magic. Because only the magic truth can conquer the challenge. To do that you have to first totally free your mind to allow your heart take Controls, once you let the mind go, then you become the magic tool, and then everything becomes possible.

I would say our mind is our greatest enemy almost in everything we do. Trust and believe that you are born to do this, and then the challenge then becomes the joyful steps that you are happy to take.

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
One piece of advice for struggling actresses, who like you, have no industry insider to jump start their careers?

I love this question, because it comes to the root of doing everything. I think in anything you do and want to and can be successful, you have to find if that thing you do is the passion in your heart, that means if you have the real talent for the things you want to do. If you want to be an actor, you have to know first of all, if you have the talent, natural talent, I believe everyone has their special talent to make them successful, I am talking about the special gift that everyone come to earth has that special gift only belongs to them, if you find that gift, know what that is, then does not matter what that is, either you are a chef or a doctor or an actor, you will be successful, because that is your gift, its meant to be. Only you have a gift to give, then you will receive a gift, then that gift you receive is your success.

So try this, close your eyes and ask your heart: what is my gift? What is the thing that makes me passionate and happy and excited to give to the world, not the things you want? If you just want the fame or money, then probably you will never find the success that you wanted. Cause all the fame, money are the reward for what you do and give, it can come also it can be gone, only the things you do and do the best, then no one can take it away, that means you will always have the success that you want and deserve. Like myself, I actually don’t know what the fame is like in Hollywood, I got nothing when I come to Hollywood, not even speak English, but I know I have a gift to give, and I am so excited about what that. It’s like a little girl she got nothing and totally naked and walking on her little bare foot in the dark alone, and suddenly a bright moon appeared to guide her. It is because I am here to give my talent, not trying to get something. So find your heart’s passion and gift, then give that, and then I guarantee you will be very successful and very happy.

  Pic Courtesy @realbailing instagram - Bai Ling at Kolkata International film festival
How was your experience at the Kolkata film festival?

I love the City of Kolkata, so beautiful, I want to thank The Kolkata international film festival for inviting me as an international jury member.

I had such a wonderful time as a jury, watched 11 beautiful movies from all over the world, not only I give what I know, also feel and learned a lot from those movies. I enjoyed getting to know our Jury member guests and our film festival local people, they are all wonderful, I felt such a delight, generous spirit, and the film festival took very good care of me made my stay in Kolkata so pleasant. So for that I am grateful.

But not only that, because of the festival, I had free time and went all of the city saw so many beautiful temples and experienced the local culture, and felt the spiritual gift the land of India has, it’s like I feel its soul connected with me, it gives me such a joy and feel blessed that I was there. I went to where India’s great writer Rabindra Nath Tagore ’s home, where he lived and taught, such a soulful and brave man, I still remember his soulful eyes, there is a bright light coming through. And also I went to Mother Teresa ’s house, such a tiny little house, but so clean and humble, I stood there for a long time, in the sweet quietness, I feel her presence, how a little lady yet so magical, I could imagine how hard her road must be, and how much strength, love and faith she must have.

I am so grateful for the Kolkata film festival for giving me the opportunity to experience India’s beautiful gifts. Last, I always give cookie on my social media @realbailing on Twitter and Instagram, today’s cookie is: Give and forgive. I learned The English word by word, these 2 words can solve any problems in your life.

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